Keeping a Food Journal Sucks But It Works

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Recently I started keeping a food journal. For those unfamiliar, a food journal is where you write down everything you eat. Other details can vary depending on the person (what time you ate, your weight, how much eating kale makes you want to commit armed robbery at a Chipotle) one constant is writing down everything you consumed.

The name itself needs a little work if you ask me. “Food journal” makes it sound like it’s some sort of diary kept by the actual food. Now all I can picture is a bespectacled baked potato, sitting in his battlefield dressed like a Civil War soldier, writing a note to his beloved with a giant quill pen. “My dearest Annabelle…your love buoys me every day throughout this horrid war. I cannot wait to return to your loving arms, where we will figure out just exactly how two potatoes could even have sex.”

Here’s why food journals suck: for the process to work properly, you have to record EVERYTHING you eat. That’s not easy because you can’t cheat and leave out the bad stuff. What if you have to share the results with your doctor? “Okay, it says here that on Wednesday you ate a salad, a plain chicken breast and….’unintelligible mumbling?’ Did you literally mumble the bad food you ate so you couldn’t understand yourself, then wrote that down?”

When you’re not eating right, your food journal goes from being just a food journal to being a book destined for the New York Times worst seller list called “How I Became Morbidly Obese.” It’s not a fun book to read. “Chapter 1: Oreos for breakfast. Chapter 2: 18 cans of Diet Coke and a cheeseburger. Chapter 3: Are there any Oreos left? Oh no that’s right, I ate all of them. Chapter 4: Going to the store for an Oreo run, anybody need anything?”

The reason why food journals work is because bad eating habits become a lot harder to stomach when they’re laid bare for you to see. Looking back at it after a bad day leaves you feeling like a drunk guy who blacked out having your friends tell you about what you did the night before. “I ate WHAT? I don’t even remember going to Arby’s!” Having  it documented makes it even more real. It’s like you’re keeping minutes on letting yourself go. “Let the record reflect that Mr. Eltringham clearly needs to lay off the pizza. Not sure why we convened a meeting full of businessmen to address this issue, but glad we’ll at least have an accurate record.”

Plus it’s motivating to want to make the page read healthier. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, the only written record I’ll leave of myself is notebooks and notebooks full of jokes I wrote plus this food journal. What if future civilizations somehow stumble upon them? What will they think of me? What if that’s ALL they find? What will they think of society? “Apparently 21st century culture was big on half-formed premises about Chewbacca and seeing how much they could avoid broccoli.”

So if you’re trying to eat better, I’d highly recommend keeping a food journal. Not only will you correct your bad eating habits, but the sentient drones that eventually take over our planet in a few hundred years will respect you more.

While we’re on the subject of food journals, sign up for my email list. I’ll send you great content, like a daily list of everything I’ve eaten.

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